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Why Gen Y aren’t the problem…

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Gen Y has long been the brunt of workplace criticism. Labelled lazy, demanding and selfish, this generation are often blamed for business's staff problems. But new research might make those pesky Gen Y have the last laugh. New research indicates it is the Baby Boomer generation posing a threat to workplace stability, rather than Gen Y.

Leadership Management Australasia (LMA), in its L.E.A.D. (leadership, employment and direction) survey, found leaders, managers and employees looked favourably on Gen Y’s contribution to the workplace. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, were consistently targeted across all generations (including Baby Boomers!) as a group not seen as favourable to work culture in the future.

“If you believe that Generation Y is the unsolvable challenge when it comes to managing a workforce, think again,” says LMA executive chairman Grant Sexton. “Baby Boomers are now the challenge. While this research suggests a much more harmonious cross-generational landscape in Australian and New Zealand organisations than many would have us believe, especially with the younger generations, Baby Boomers are not in favour.

“The Baby Boomer issue is a sleeper – an emerging and ongoing challenge for HR departments. It threatens to undermine stability of the workforce into the future because Baby Boomers will continue to occupy most leadership and senior management positions in this decade,” he says.

The survey asked respondents to identify the generation they’d prefer to work with and report to in the future. Only four per cent of both Gen-X and Gen-Y respondents nominated Baby Boomers as those they’d like to work with, while 14 per cent of Gen X and eight per cent of Gen Y said they’d like to report to Baby Boomers in the future.

Of the Baby Boomer respondents, only 17 per cent said they’d like to work with their own generation, with 40 per cent preferring Gen X and 27 per cent Gen Y.

So how can relationships between the generations improve? Sexton says it’s all down to communication.

“The way is open for a new way of thinking for those leaders and managers currently struggling with cross-generational dysfunction and generational diversity,” adds Sexton.

Published on: Wednesday, June 08, 2011

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